A preliminary examination of anti-Muslim incidents following the fatal shooting at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin that took place in August 2012.
This report is dedicated to the memory of the six people who were murdered during the massacre in Oak Creek, Wis.: Bhai Seeta Singh, Bhai Parkash Singh, Bhai Ranjit Singh, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Subegh Singh, and Parmjit Kaur Toor.
Thirteen Days in Ramadan
Ramadan 2012—which started on Friday, July 20 and ended at sun down on Saturday, August 18—saw one of the worst spikes of anti-Muslim incidents in over a decade. In the first seven months of 2012, there were 10 incidents in which Muslim places of worship were targeted. In thirteen days in August, Muslim places of worship were targeted eight times.
Mosque Incidents 2012
Additionally, an incendiary device was thrown at a Muslim family’s home and an Islamic gravestone was defaced during this short period in Ramadan.
Unfortunately, the targeting of Muslim places of worship is becoming expected. Earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported, “The number of anti-Muslim groups tripled in 2011, jumping from 10 groups in 2010 to 30 last year.” According to the FBI there were 107 anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2009 to 160 in 2010, the last year for which numbers are available.
Incidents in Illinois included shots fired at a mosque in Morton Grove and an acid bomb thrown at an Islamic school in Lombard. In other states, a mosque was burned to the ground in Joplin, Mo., vandals sprayed an Oklahoma mosque with paintballs, pigs legs were thrown at a mosque-site in California, and a firebomb was thrown at a Muslim family’s home in Panama City, Fla.
The violence against religion during this period was not limited to Muslim targets. In what was by far the worst incident, six Sikhs were gunned down by a white supremacist in Wisconsin. A security guard at the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian organization, was shot in the arm as he heroically barred a gunman from the group’s office. The windows of an Arab Christian church in Detroit were broken by vandals.
Previously, Muslims witnessed a significant spike in incidents, particularly those targeting Islamic houses of worship, in the summer and fall of 2010 during the controversy over plans to construct an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, the Park 51 project.
During the 2012 Ramadan spike, CAIR called for stepped-up police protection at Muslim institutions and other houses of worship nationwide and offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever caused the Missouri fire. CAIR also re-issued its Mosque Safety Kit and a shorter information sheet providing tips on simple, immediate actions mosque leadership could take to improve site security.
In many cases, law enforcement officials are conducting investigations and have not yet final determinations if the below incidents were bias-motivated.
[Excerpt from Thirteen Days in Ramadan 2012. September 2012. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). www.cair.com. September 2012.]